On Rereading Sylvia Plath’s Ariel

Ariel was my adult book.

When I was 14 there was an outlet bookstore that I used to go to.  It had all of those Children’s Illustrated Classics and I had pretty well stocked up on, but never read, those the two years before.  When I entered high school I decided that I was time to broaden my horizons.  Since I was furiously writing really bad poetry at the time and had begun to explore the depths of it in the local library, I went straight for the poetry section.  There were masses of thin volumes marked for $1.99 to $5.99 and for some reason I selected the plain white Ariel.  Perhaps I chose it because it was written by a woman.  Perhaps I chose it because subconsciously I remembered listening the recording of Plath reading “Daddy” on my cd-rom interactive encyclopedia.  Whatever the reason, I bought it and I started reading it and I felt like an adult.

That Monday I strolled into school with my sleek, slim book of poetry.  I tucked it under my arm, on top of my books, so that everybody could see.  In class it sat on the right hand corner of my desk, where I always put whatever I was reading the teachers never said a word.  Not that day.  That day my English teacher, a super nice woman whose name I cannot even remember now because the other two teachers I had for high school English shaped the shit out of me, asked me if I was reading Plath.

“Yes, I am,” I said proudly.  Somebody had noticed.

The teacher went on to tell me how much she loved Plath and how she read The Bell Jar when she was my age and it changed her life.  Needless to say, I bought The Bell Jar soon after.  And it changed my life.



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